Everyone wants to do social media these days. Social media is IN! Big brands are doing it to generate buzz. Startups are doing it to be discovered. Students and recent grads are using it to build their personal brands and get hired.
We’re tweeting and snapping and pinning like there’s no tomorrow. And more and more tools and networks are popping up daily. There’s a whole new world out there for us to explore, and there’s a digital gold rush to be the first, the loudest, and the best. So you’re ready to head west young (wo)man? Kudos to your for your pioneer spirit, but before you roll out, do you have a strategy?
Strategy is the difference between a haphazard, digital mess and an efficient, effective social media presence. Whether you’re a new business trying to gain attention or a veteran innovating within your industry, you need to develop a quality strategy before you even come close to pressing the “Send” button.
When I sit down with new clients, we use the following checklist of questions to get us thinking about our social media strategy. If you’re not sure where to begin, I highly recommend starting here!
Depending on how developed your brand is, these questions may feel repetitive, but it’s worth writing out their answers again at the beginning of your strategy. They will keep you focused, and you’ll be glad that you did later.
1. What are your GOALS?
Define your high-reaching, overarching goals as a brand. What do you hope to accomplish as a team? Get specific! If your goal is to increase direct sales, your media strategy will be different than if your goal is to build a community for like-minded individuals.
2. What are the METRICS that matter?
Now that you know your goals, how will you know when you’ve reached them? Define the metrics that matterspecifically to these goals. Record your initial numbers. Then, commit to tracking them every week. Beware of vanity metrics! Remember, the metrics that matter are the ones that communicate your progress toward reaching your defined goals.
3. What is your STORY?
JetBlue is a good example of a company with a great digital presence, and not surprisingly, its values are clearly defined as “nice, smart, fresh, stylish, and witty.” Your values form the root of your story; your story is what you believe in as a brand. Outline what you stand for, what you believe in, and what your values are. This is your message that you’ll share with the world.
4. Who is your AUDIENCE?
Your message is meaningless if it doesn’t reach the right audience. Now is the time to define exactly who you’re speaking to as a brand. Who shares your values? Create a fictional character, give her (or him) a name, and define every aspect of this person’s life. What do they like, want, and need? Where do they spend their time physically and digitally? If you want to deliver a message, you’ll have to know where, how, and when to reach them.
Were you wondering when we were going to get to the actual content creation stuff? Well, here we are – all the way down at the bottom of the list, and there’s a reason for that! Before you get into the details of where, how, and when to post, it’s important to know why you’re posting at all. Now that we’ve defined our high-level objectives, it’s time to get specific.
6. What NETWORKS will you use?
Be thoughtful about where your audience spends times digitally. Classics like Facebook and Twitter may seem to be obvious places to start, but is that where your specific audience is? Some companies have found success bybreaking up with the big platforms. Think outside the box – even beyond Pinterest, Instagram, and SnapChat. Niche networks might be a better fit for you. Remember, quality engagement is better than quantity. If your audience doesn’t frequent a specific network, don’t use it. And don’t spread yourself too thin. Select a few networks that make the most sense for you and use them well.
7. What CONTENT will you create?
For each network that you decide to use, you’ll need to determine what type of content you create and share there. Using your brand story and audience needs as a guide, outline specific types of use-cases and media that you plan to share. Whether you plan on producing original content or responding to customer support requests, make sure that your priority purpose is explicitly stated and understood.
8. What TOOLS will you use?
Knowing how you’ll get from concept to post is important. You’ll need a system for keeping your strategy running every day, and the best way to do this is with a suite of tools. Some things to consider: sourcing content, scheduling posts, generating links, monitoring conversations, customer support, and metrics tracking. Outline the processes that you’ll need help with and then create or get access to the tools you need.
9. What TIME will you post?
Have specific guidelines for each platform outlining the best and worst times to distribute your message, based on the audience that you’ve defined. If your audience is busy at work during the day, posting at 6:00 pm during their train commute home is ideal, but posting at 2:00 pm on a Monday doesn’t make much sense. Be specific and remember to design your timeline around the lives of your audience members, not your own.
10. Which TEAM MEMBERS will be responsible?
A strategy is useless without someone to implement. Assign responsibility for each digital channel to one person or to a team of people. Responsibility means not only posting, but also tracking metrics, monitoring progress, and taking charge in the event of a disaster. Make sure the person or persons in charge understand your strategy and are ready to implement it fully.
Do you have an answer for all these questions? Then congratulations! You’re ready to start posting to social media. Don’t forget to track your metrics every week and evaluate your progress. This will allow you to make any necessary tweaks to make your strategy even more effective. Solicit feedback from your audience, stay consistent, and don’t forget to bookmark this post. You’ll want to return to it next time you’re thinking about trying a new digital channel. Now, go west and get digital!